I shed a tear as I read the obituary of Sir Arthur C. Clarke yesterday. He regaled us with science fiction stories based on fantastic ideas of our future, both on and off the planet. He provided scientific commentary to us during the exciting days of Apollo moon missions, alongside Walter Cronkite. And he has given us many scientific ideas which have become realities like communication satellites, geosynchronous orbits and the space station. Sir Arthur also recently lent his support to the Google Lunar X-Prize competition.
When personal computers would barely fit in your living room let alone on your desk and the Internet was known only to a handful of DARPA researchers as ARPANET, I read a passage in 2001:A Space Odyssey that has stuck with me for over 30 years. It wasn’t even part of the story. It was a short note at the end of the book that said “The entire manuscript for this book was sent from Sri Lanka to my publisher in New York City on a single 5-1/4 inch floppy disk.” At that moment, I realized that if I one day become a writer, I could live and work from anywhere in the world. Little did I know what was to come … but I’ll bet Sir Arthur did.
Sir Arthur C. Clarke left us with three wishes:
“I would like to see some evidence of extra-terrestrial life.”
“I would like to see us kick our addiction to oil and adopt clean energy sources.”
“I dearly wish to see lasting peace established in Sri Lanka.”
He ends his 90th Birthday Reflections video with this quote from Rudyard Kipling:
If I have given you delight
By aught that I have done,
Let me lie quiet in that night
Which shall be yours anon:
And for that little, little span
The dead are borne in mind
Seek not to question other than
The books I leave behind.
Rudyard Kipling, 1939